Sustainability Science

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 293–303 | Cite as

A science of integration: frameworks, processes, and products in a place-based, integrative study

  • Andrew KliskeyEmail author
  • Lilian Alessa
  • Sarah Wandersee
  • Paula Williams
  • Jamie Trammell
  • Jim Powell
  • Jess Grunblatt
  • Mark Wipfli
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Concepts, Methodology, and Knowledge Management for Sustainability Science


Integrative research is increasingly a priority within the scientific community and is a central goal for the evolving field of sustainability science. While it is conceptually attractive, its successful implementation has been challenging and recent work suggests that the move towards interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity in sustainability science is being only partially realized. To address this from the perspective of social-ecological systems (SES) research, we examine the process of conducting a science of integration within the Southcentral Alaska Test Case (SCTC) of Alaska-EPSCoR as a test-bed for this approach. The SCTC is part of a large, 5 year, interdisciplinary study investigating changing environments and adaptations to those changes in Alaska. In this paper, we review progress toward a science of integration and present our efforts to confront the practical issues of applying proposed integration frameworks. We: (1) define our integration framework; (2) describe the collaborative processes, including the co-development of science through stakeholder engagement and partnerships; and (3) illustrate potential products of integrative, social-ecological systems research. The approaches we use can also be applied outside of this particular framework. We highlight challenges and propose improvements for integration in sustainability science by addressing the need for common frameworks and improved contextual understanding. These insights may be useful for capacity-building for interdisciplinary projects that address complex real-world social and environmental problems.


Collaboration Co-production of knowledge Integrative research Science of integration Social-ecological systems Sustainability science Transdisciplinary science 



We are grateful for the support of the National Science Foundation through awards OIA-1208927 (Alaska ACE), DEB-1231233 (MtnSEON), and OIA-1301792 (Idaho MILES). This paper as an official product of the Center for Resilient Communities (University of Idaho). We would like to thank Dr. Jim Gosz for sharing his time and expertise in reviewing an earlier version of this manuscript, and to two anonymous reviewers for their valuable critiques. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors alone and it does not represent any official NSF or USGS finding or policy.


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew Kliskey
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lilian Alessa
    • 1
  • Sarah Wandersee
    • 2
  • Paula Williams
    • 2
  • Jamie Trammell
    • 3
  • Jim Powell
    • 4
  • Jess Grunblatt
    • 5
  • Mark Wipfli
    • 6
  1. 1.Center for Resilient Communities, University of IdahoMoscowUSA
  2. 2.University of Alaska AnchorageAnchorageUSA
  3. 3.Alaska Center for Conservation ScienceUniversity of Alaska AnchorageAnchorageUSA
  4. 4.University of Alaska SoutheastJuneauUSA
  5. 5.University of Alaska Fairbanks, Geographic Information Network of AlaskaFairbanksUSA
  6. 6.Alaska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, US Geological SurveyUniversity of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA

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